Discussing the possibility of family therapy is never an easy conversation to have. There are going to be questions from family members, and likely some objections to the prospect of attending counseling together as a family. Especially if a family member is resistant to the prospect of family therapy, it’s important that you have a strategy and talking points prepared when it’s time to discuss therapy with family members.
Family counseling can give every member of your family the chance to speak honestly and openly, about everything on their minds. Although families commonly encounter resistance on the road toward family therapy, the life-changing results that counseling can deliver make the struggle a worthwhile one.
Document discussion topics
It can be difficult to remember exactly what you wanted to say in the moment. In the same way that it helps to document discussion topics in preparation for a family therapy session, it helps to have discussion topics ready when it comes to talking with your family about attending family therapy.
Write down your talking points before you sit down with your family. This will help you organize your thoughts ahead of time. Also take a moment or two before you take the time to speak with your family, and anticipate some of their concerns, questions or reservations about attending family counseling. We suggest that before the conversation begins, you write down your responses to common objections, so that you can more clearly articulate your points when family members raise questions.
Emphasize your role in family therapy
This likely goes without saying, but you are an integral part of your own family. Make sure that when discussing the concept of attending family therapy with other members of your family, they understand that you’ll be there alongside them. It helps to speak inclusively – “When we attend therapy…” – rather than drawing lines between family members – “You need family therapy.” The more you can emphasize your role within the context of the entire family receiving family therapy, the more open your family members will be to the entire idea.
Take the time to explain the benefits
Family therapy takes work. It requires not only commitment, but also participation from each member of the family attending counseling. It also requires that every member of the family reserve the time during their week to attend family therapy, and that everyone remain open to discussion, positive change, honesty, forgiveness and new beginnings, no matter the challenges you’ll be working through. That said, family therapy also offers a wide variety of wonderful benefits that your entire family can enjoy, even before therapy concludes.
Below, we’ve outlined a few of the benefits your family will likely experience as a result of family therapy attendance:
1) Enhanced problem-solving skills
Many issues discussed in family therapy will involve disagreements between family members. Fortunately, one of the major benefits of family therapy is the fact that it helps all attendants improve problem-solving skills. Family therapy teaches not only individual problem-solving skills, but also problem-solving collectively. Learn how to identify and address problems faced by the entire family, as a family.
2) Empathy for other family members
Family therapy also helps foster empathy for other family members. Through the openness of family therapy and honest counseling, you’ll be able to share your own thoughts and feelings, and you’ll learn empathy for the thoughts, feelings and struggles of your own family members.
Empathy means more than simply comprehending another’s thoughts. It means sharing in their emotions, placing yourself in their shoes. Shared empathy allows you to tackle issues together as a family, instead of in isolation.
3) Improved communication
One of the main benefits of family therapy is the fact that it helps to improve communication. Learning to selectively speak and listen, to both therapists and to other members of your family, helps improve communication across the entire family. Just like a lack of communication can cause a family to break down, improving communication enables the family to operate as a single team.
Hear out your family member’s concerns
It’s been mentioned before, but it’s worth repeating: your family members will have valid concerns. If you’re the one proposing family therapy, then it’s your job to listen to the thoughts, opinions and objectives of those members of your family who might feel differently.
You’ll want to do more than listen to concerns; you’ll want to work to better understand them. Even if the reasoning of your family members doesn’t hold up, it’s your job to hear them out. Ask questions of your family members, and take their responses to heart. Make sure that you frame your responses lovingly, and that you ensure family members have the correct understanding of what family therapy actually entails.
Taking family therapy one step at a time
Family therapy helps you, and all members of your family, take control of mental and behavioral health issues. Your family deserves help in managing shared and individual concerns. Our care programs help you, and all family members, pursue and achieve freedom from any issues they’re facing. Call (678) 325-3842, or reach out to Atlanta’s first free-standing structured outpatient program today, to help the entire family process challenges in a licensed family therapy setting.